tv Morning Joe MSNBC December 28, 2020 3:00am-6:00am PST
which is why i alone can fix it. >> he did tell us that he alone would fix the country's problems. what he didn't mention was that it would create many of the crises and then act like he solved them. the latest, president trump finally signed the combined coronavirus relief and government funding bill. good morning. welcome to "morning joe." we swear 2020 is almost over. i'm jonathan lemire, white house reporter for the associated press and msnbc political analyst and along with msnbc news capitol hill correspondent and host of "way too early," kasie hunt. we have been handed the keys to the car by joe, mika and willie. we'll try to return it in good shape. to help keep us on the road, we have associate editor from "the washington post," david
ignatius. kasie, "the art of the deal," it was not. so my question to you, just what was the point of all that? >> that's a great question, jonathan, and i spent most of the weekend talking to a number of particularly republicans but also democrats and that is exactly where they are. everyone sent this bill to president trump after literally months of all of this fighting. they finally got it to him and he created this as you said, jon, from nothing. and instead, he delivered a week of uncertainty. finally of course, ending that crisis by signing the bill late last night. it not only provides money to those who need it, but it avoids a government shutdown that was otherwise going to happen tonight. remember, the bill was sent to
the president on christmas eve, but he complained he wanted to raise the stimulus checks to $2,000 a person. that's something he could have advocated for months ago. and trump has been at his mar-a-lago golf course. the bill actually had to be flown down to florida to him. eventually, after zero changes were made, he finally signed it last night, claiming that congress would make changes to meet the demands despite the bill already being signed into law. the president's decision to delay the legislation allowed unemployment benefits for roughly 14 million people to expire and there likely be a delay for millions to get the money that they so desperately need. it delays the stimulus checks that were expected to begin going out this week. so, lemire, jon lemire, first of all, the delay on those stimulus checks means that for the two senators -- the republican senators trying to keep their seats in georgia that's now a
chance that their constituents aren't going to get those checks before actual election day. that's something republicans really wanted. but also i know that there was an incredible behind the scenes scramble on the part of republicans to try and convince the president to do this. it was partly because of georgia, but there had to have been some other arguments. so my question to you as someone who covers the white house is what finally got through to him? what arguments was he hearing? what made him decide to cave and do this? i realize they gave him the signing statement as a way for him to have a little bit of political cover and he made all of the demands but the reality is that none of the demands mean anything in the context of congress, they're political cover. so why did he give you? >> you made a good point about georgia, the election is week away. therefore, the gop majority in that house of congress, and as
far as the president you're right, senator lindsey graham was on the golf course with him over in florida over the weekend and he heard from kevin mccarthy in house and other allies on capitol hill and in the media who were telling him -- conservative media who were telling him this is damaging. this is going to undo parts of your legacy here in the 11th hour and other advisers and let's be clear there are very few voices he listens to, suggested to him, kasie, this was also going to hurt what he wants to do next. he's priming for the next step and as much as he's fighting this election still, as much as he's pinning his hopes on the electoral college certification next week he knows and people around him know that he won't be president anymore. and it's question of how to set himself up for what's next. making money, being in the media or potentially even running in 2024. and david ignatius, how appropriate is it would you say that we are in the near final days, 20 odd days left of the
trump administration, that we end with the same sort of chaos that it began? >> well, there is a sell atri, and he's leaving in what may be the most tumultuous disruption of all. we have to see what happens on january 6th, but the president in his recent tweets, a tweet on saturday, denounced members of congress yet again for failing to come to his support, in his false claims that the election was fraudulent and then essentially invited his supporters to come into the streets. see you in d.c. there's a big rally that trump supporters are planning for washington, d.c., on january 6th, the day that the house and senate are supposed to count the votes. it will be the last day that any legal challenge could be made to the next presidency of joe
biden. so i think he is -- he is calling on his supporters to be as disruptive as he is. a lot of people are following this in the government concerned about trump's actions. the fact he backed down on the stimulus checks after a week of disruption and anger may mean he'll do something when it comes to counting the electoral college. but you're right, he's going out the way he came in, it's absolutely right. >> i know it's an absolutely great point, and, you know, i think it also underscores here, david, that we're going to see another day where the president is making it incredibly hard, as hard as possible for his own allies in congress who are going to be put in the position where
they have to vote against a president as they worry about what he might do to them when he is finally out of office. but let's bring in our reporters to talk more about what they know. national political reporter for nbc news, josh lederman. he is traveling with the president in west palm beach. also senior white house correspondent and co-author of the politico playbook anna and eugene scott. i know you're tracking this late into the night last night. the split screen realities that the difference where the president and his top advisers, the vice president, mike pence, the treasury secretary, steven mnuchin, what they were doing while the president was dithering about whether he was going to sign this, versus the millions of americans who were at home trying to figure out if they were going to be able to pay rent this week, if northern going to be evicted from their
homes because that eviction moratorium included in this bill wasn't going to become law. the nervousness, the insecurity, the challenges that all of those americans were facing as the president and the team that he leads were all on vacation. i know you have been reporting some pretty damning frankly details about how that has all been unfolding. what have you learned about what they have been doing in public and also behind the scenes as we have been grappling with this crisis? >> well, you're absolutely right, kasie. the dire consequence of the president not signing this legislation in a timely way was not reflected in the way that he and his top aides were carrying themselves out over the holidays. the president spent three of the last four days at his golf course here in west palm beach. the only day that he didn't golf was a morning when it was a little too chilly here in south florida for that to be enjoyable. and instead, the president spent
that morning grievance tweeting about both the election and about his concerns about this legislation. vice president mike pence, he was in vail, colorado, and steve mnuchin, who bore so much criticism for having been the one to tell congress that the president supported this legislation and indeed would sign it, he according to our sources is off in mexico at a private home he owns at a resort there, spending some time with his family. now, officials said that the president was still in contact with members of his administration. obviously, lindsey graham came down here apparently to try to talk the president out of this last-minute gambit that he was making, but the reality is that over the last several days, kasie, it became increasingly clear that this was not just about some 11th hour concerns that the president woke up to about this legislation, but this had become fully enmeshed with
his continuing grievances about the election. he sensed that the republicans insufficiently loyal to him were not going along with the ploy to overturn the results of the election and he can still command the conversation, he can still create a crisis that will engulf washington even as everyone is trying to enjoy their holidays and ultimately the president was able to end that crisis as quickly as he started it, but not without significant pain for those who needed the unemployment insurance not the next week, but right now. >> josh lederman, thank you so much. you make a terrific point about how this president was able to turn the attention on him again, command center stage, as so much of the world has moved on and sort of is focused on president-elect joe biden as he prepares to take office in less than a month.
anna palmer, from politico, i want to talk to you know about what's next. the president didn't get anything here outside of a bunch of cable chyrons and a bunch of frantic tweets. no suggestion that the two houses of congress here going to make any changes to be the bill, despite what the president has sent back in his red line letter last night. >> yeah. i mean, trump got taken to the cleaners, based on a crisis of his own making. i think it's a real fitting coda for the trump presidency where you have basically a leader who didn't know washington, that was going to come in and change the way it worked and clearly that hasn't happened. you know, he created a crisis. republicans are no longer just falling in line behind him. and, you know, he never cared to really understand congress and that became very clear over the last four years and certainly in the last episode that he has -- just because he tweets things
and his followers may support him that doesn't mean that that's what is actually going to happen in congress. even the $2,000 direct payment checks we haven't heard a word from senate majority leader mitch mcconnell he's going to bring that up as a possibility. so he literally got nothing except for several days of chaos. >> yeah, i mean, anna, all this does is underscore the fact that the democrats want the $2,000 checks and it's republicans don't want them, and that's why the checks are set at $600. it's a confounding political situation. let's bringing in "morning joe" economic analyst steve rattner. steve, you have your famous charts that really help underscore what this bill means for the millions of americans who have been waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for help and, you know, even just this delay that the president made of the last week or so has an impact. explain it to us.
>> sure, kasie. well, what my chart showed today really what's at stake and by implication who's going to benefit from it. so i think the core of this are the unemployed americans. and right now, we had 14 million for whom this was really on the line. and that's basically two groups of people. it's approximately 9 million people who were getting expanded eligibility under c.a.r.e.s. they were getting this extra time of unemployment payments even after the normal 26 weeks that people get under the state programs had expired. then secondly you had a larger group of people who work in the so-called gig economy, like lyft drivers, who would have gotten no unemployment under the
pre-existing programs and that was remaining constant in the 14 million range, even though the gig workers were declining. but then people on the extended 14-week program was increasing. so you had 14 people -- whose lives were on the line who had lost their unemployment insurance on december 26th because it expired who are now going to get back at least some additional unemployment. in addition, you have all of the people. these two groups, plus about 5 million people who are receiving regular unemployment insurance who had lost the $600 a week back in the end of july that had expired and now will get back $300 a week which is not $600 but at least it's something. this is against the back drop of the economy that's showing signs of slowing in large part many of the programs had expired at the end of july. so just in the last few days, the end of last week, we had a
number of disappointing data reports and we can look at a few of them here. you had consumer confidence starting to turn down, and consumer spending go down by a bit more. you had personal income fall off substantially and that had a lot to do with the end of the stimulus programs and people tried to trade up to slightly nicer homes and move to the country or whatever it was they wanted to do, but those have started to fall off as a result of a lot of this uncertainty. so we're looking at a situation in which the economy was really starting to slow down. you saw new claims for unemployment insurance, get a monthly job figure on the 8th, and this was critical to help the overall economy start to resume a more normal pattern of recovery which had really started to fade away and secondly, to help all of these people who had lost their jobs,
who are out of work and really depending on the federal government for work and thanks to trump and really with the slowness of government acting we're getting nothing. >> more now on how president trump got us here, a temper tantrum that continued while americans waited for the benefits and he spent the last few days golfing. as the coronavirus relief deal moved to congress, president trump grew increasingly upset at media coverage that made him out to be largely sidelined in negotiations. "the post" points out it's been more than a year since president trump has called congressional democratic leaders. some people close to the white house say the decision to hold up the deal reflects his embittered mood in the final days. he wants to inflict as much pain on congress as possible. eugene scott, with that as your introduction, this is your paper's reporting, talk -- take
us behind the scenes here as to what has prompted the president's anger and why do we think it's satiated now? why did he eventually sign this pill? >> i think it became clear that he was not going to get the win that he was hoping to in the final weeks in the white house. and he certainly really needed to change the narrative that he would lose again. you know, he's still very much fixated on the election and if he didn't move forward with this situation in terms of getting this relief to people who really needed it, he would have even more negative headlines. but the president as you all know ran on the idea that he is a deal maker and that he could fix washington and get people what they needed and including economic relief. but one of the things that the president seemed not to understand is that to make deals you have to be in good relationship with people and he actually has very negative relationships obviously with the leaders of the democratic party.
but in recent weeks, also those in the gop. some of his most vicious attacks in the last few weeks have been against other republicans including some of those in congress. so there was no real incentive for anyone on the left or the right to do what the president wanted, because he had not put himself in the position to work with them to get what is best for the people he says he wanted to help most. >> it's a good point. anna palmer, you have covered the behind the scenes workings in washington for so many years. i think what really struck me about this is that the last couple of nights, it was very clear that there was no plan "b." there was no situation, no understanding, no way to go forward if the president had vetoed this bill. congress didn't have any recourse and that's a pretty rare and scary thing for people who usually have some sort of fallback plan, some way to make it all work.
that just didn't exist in this scenario and i think that's why there were so many people who were so scared that the president was going to actually veto this. what do you know about what arguments finally got through to him because i know republicans were arguing this was really going to mess up our chances of winning in georgia but i guess the question is how do you connect senate republicans keeping the majority to president trump's future, clearly they got through to him somehow. >> it's a really smart point. i think it's important to underscore how close we were to the precipice of actually shutting down the government and because the covid relief was tied to the government funding, there was no plan "b" as you say. the biggest frustration i hear from congress or the aides it wasn't as if he had a strategy as to what the end game was going to be, what a win for him would be. one of the things that when you look at the president and what matters, certainly they were making the case, congressional
republicans were making the case that georgia was the ball game. that he would get blamed for. i think playing to the president's vanity is something that has worked time and again in terms of he legacy. right now, he could have gone out on a high note for him. it's been a tumultuous and hard four years but if you look at the vaccine coming out. the fact he could have had relief, it could have been a nice segue into what he wants to do next, unlikely this is doing to happen. because we're looking at january 6th, but playing on the president's vanity is something that we have heard a lot about. >> something that has clearly had an impact. politico's anna palmer, thank you very much for being with us this morning. we want to go now to the christmas morning explosion that racked downtown nashville. the suspect has been identified. fbi investigators revealed that the bomber 63-year-old anthony quinn warner died in the blast.
they made the connection after an identification number was registered to warner. officials declined to say what kind of explosives were use ordinary a possible motive. the suspect is believed to have worked alone. six nashville police officers are being hailed as heroes after quickly evacuating the area. the blast injured three people and destroyed dozens of businesses nearby. joining us from nashville, tennessee, shaquille brewster. shaq, obviously a very scary christmas for those folks in nashville. what do we know about this suspect and what's next in the investigation? >> reporter: good morning, kasie. yes, this was definitely the culmination of several days of investigation that began of course right after that christmas morning bombing on friday morning. investigators say that it was a combination of crucial tips from the public and forensic evidence recovered at the scene that allowed them to make that
positive identification within really two days. that was later announced yesterday afternoon. what is that dna evidence? we know they recovered some human tissue from the blast site and they were able to match that dna recovered from another source. there was physical evidence that they found amid that massive debris field and you're looking at some of the pictures right now, amid the blocks and blocks of devastation. they were able to find apart from the vehicle that had the vehicle identification number on it and traced it to anthony warner. there was the video. this happened in the downtown memphis area, lots of cameras around. they say they watched hours and hours of video and it was because of the video that gave them the confidence to say that anthony warner acted alone. listen here. >> we're still following leads, but right now, there is no indication that any other persons were involved.
we have reviewed hours of security video surrounding the recreational vehicle as well as -- we saw no other people involved around that vehicle. >> reporter: now, we know that vehicle was parked around 1:00 a.m. christmas morning and it wasn't until 5:00 a.m. responded to the possible shots fired. when they arrived, that's when they heard the rv blaring out the warnings, saying that there was a bomb, it would be detonating and it turned into the countdown. saying it would happen within 15 minutes, 14 minutes. officers evacuated the area and it was about 6:30 a.m. christmas morning that that rv then detonated. we heard from the officers who first arrived at the scene who led the investigation or led the effort to evacuate the area. you can tell from their stories that it was because of their quick actions that's what helped to avoid this american suicide bombing from becoming a mass
casualty event. kasie? >> some pictures on the screen for everyone to take a look at of those heros who clearly saved many lives. shaq, you have of course been covering the coronavirus pandemic and it's pretty tough right now in tennessee. so let me ask you to put that hat on for a second. what are the trends there and what are the concerns in the wake of the holiday weekend and heading into the new year? >> reporter: yeah, kasie, right now it's a hard time to evaluate that because when you look right before the holiday weekend, and christmas holiday, that's when the testing numbers have fluctuated. testing centers are closed and people aren't coming in and those who get tested are more symptomatic. tennessee, when you look at the rate per capita was one of the states in this country that was leading the new case or the case average when you look at into a weekly basis. you heard from the tennessee --
excuse me, tennessee governor bill lee who had some open frustration of a culture of indifference. he complained about people not wanting to wear a mask or social distancing. that's what we're continuing to watch. we have had the holiday weekend and now we're going into new year's and new year's eve. there's more concern that this spike will continue to happen. especially as people see the light of the vaccinations that are starting to be rolled out. when you look at those numbers, even the vaccines, the vaccinations are not happening at the pace that many people expected. so again, you have state leaders pleading with people to just follow the common sense guidelines, washing their hands, wearing the masks and socially distancing. they say that will stop the turn and make sure that the trend we saw before the christmas holiday doesn't continue once we get a fuller view of the picture. >> shaquille brewster, thank you.
jon, yet more evidence of just how the politicization of mask wearing is causing so much death and so much suffering. >> kasie, 100,000 americans have died since election day which shows the dereliction of duty from this president in terms of managing this crisis while instead he's consumed with the futile effort to overturn the election. much more on the coronavirus ahead. dr. anthony fauci says he believes the worst is yet to come. we'll take a look at where the u.s. stands on the vaccine front right now. we'll be back in just a moment.
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surpassed the 19 million mark. so far, nearly 334,000 deaths have been reported. meanwhile, "the new york times" report warns americans should not trust a drop in coronavirus case numbers that we could see over the next week. the report says the united states is poised to see a steep drop in newly reported covid-19 infections as the upcoming holidays introduce gaps in the data. that's because health departments in at least 15 states have said they would not public statewide data on christmas. several including wyoming, rhode island and north carolina had also planned to take off on christmas eve. some testing sites across the country also closed or had limited hours which means that fewer cases may be identified on days when data is reported. jon? >> the massive campaign to get americans vaccinated has kicked off to the slower start than expected.
just over 1 million doses of the vaccine have been united states lited out of utilized out of the 1.9 million. the first doses of the vaccines were distributed by pfizer on december 14th, followed by the first dose of moderna's vaccine the week after. federal officials were initially hoping to get 20 million people their first of two required shots by the end of this year. but after walking back that target, the government is making it available to the states and other jurisdictions by the end of the year. joining us now is dr. valerie fitzhugh from the college of american pathologists and associate professor of pathologists. she's a participant in the phase 3 clinical trials for the coronavirus vaccine. thank you so much for being here this morning. give us an update on your health and tell us what you're seeing at your facility in terms of
having the vaccine, who's getting it and when do you expect to get more? >> so, good morning and, thank you. i'm feeling well. i'm doing well. i have gone through two shots of potential vaccine versus placebo. i still don't know what i received yet. i will find out this week what i received and will allow me to if necessary get vaccinated. across our facilities and question a series of hospitals in our system. the highest risk frontline workers are being vaccinated first. those who work in the er are getting vaccinated first and trying to work out how to get it out to people as fast as possible. we are seeing a lot of interest, i'm happy to see that. i'm happy that people are interested and excited about getting this vaccine because it really is a first step on our
way back to a normal life. >> it's absolutely so important. such an important point. of course, we're all nervous again because the highly transmissible second strain of the coronavirus that was first detected in england has now been confirmed in several other countries. so far, in addition to the uk, this new variant has been confirmed in canada, japan, australia, lebanon, france, denmark, spain, sweden, the netherlands, germany and italy. so it's pretty much everywhere. according to "the washington post," scientists do not believe that the variant is more deadly or resistant to the current covid-19 vaccine. the new strain has not been detected yet in the united states, but officials are starting to take precautions. as of today, the u.s. government will require all travelers flying in from britain to show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of the plane's departure. former food and drug administration commissioner scott gottlieb said he believes
the variant is probably already in the united states and could be spreading rapidly. meanwhile, countries across the european union have begun to roll out the coronavirus vaccine for their 4 50 million residents, despite concern that many won't be able to get vaccinated due to limited supply. the eu ordered millions of doses and they're being divided equally among the 27 states that make up the union. david ignatius, let me go to you on this. first of all, the new variant of the disease is making a lot of people nervous and the fact that it has spread so quickly i think underscores what we have or perhaps have not learned about how to contain something like this. i'm interested to know what your take is on what countries should be doing to try to keep this out and whether the u.s. still can
successfully do it and then also as we start to talk about getting these vaccines across the world how the eu program compares to here at home. >> i'm struck by how clever the virus is as we think of it as a living being invading the controls that we have. i want to ask dr. fitzhugh who is really an expert, let's assume for the moment that this virulent strain spreading in britain and europe is already in the united states, what should we expect, dr. fitzhugh, in terms of its impact? this faster spreading virulent if it's now in the u.s., what's next? >> so i think it's important to remember and for everyone to understand this is what viruses do. viruses mutate all the time so we have to be prepared for that. you know, the best way to curb
the spread of this virus is what we needed to be doing all along -- washing our hands, wearing a mask, socially distancing. these are the steps that we need to take to curb any variant. yes, it's already here, and you have to sequence the virus in the person and we found that the strain may be here. that wouldn't be terribly surprising to me given that people are continuing to travel, despite the warnings against that. so you know, we have to be vigilant and we have to keep doing the things that we needed to do to flatten this curve if we didn't want this new variant to become a huge issue in the united states. >> just what we needed, eugene scott. more contagious version of this virus. i know you have a question. go right ahead. >> i do. dr. fitzhugh, thanks for joining us this morning. i was speaking to some individuals from the
african-american community who are still anxious about taking a vaccine, despite what they have seen so far and despite the number of black people from the medical community like yourself who have been speaking out about the importance of it. at this point, what to you say to be more convincing to this demographic that's been disproportionately affected and harmed by this virus to encourage them to move forward with taking this vaccine. >> so, we know that there are issues of trust within the black community. you know, within -- about the medical establishment and that's rightful. there's things that happened to particularly black people when it comes to medicine. we saw recently this past weekend, you know, the death of dr. susan moore who was a physician -- a family physician in indianapolis, indiana, who lost her life in her battle to covid and she put a video on facebook speaking to her experience about how she wasn't being treated and she'd be
treated differently if she was a caucasian patient. so we know there are still issues of this to this very day. what i try to do when i speak about the vaccine is come from a place of education. i don't want to force anybody to do anything. i don't want people to think they have to do it because i said so. what i try to do is educate the best i can, talk about what we see. how efficacious, what are the side effects, what can you expect when you get the vaccine because i think these conversations are important. and to also speak to concerns about the speed in which the vaccine was produced because that is one that a lot of people have a concern about. but the reality is that never before have we seen resources kicked toward way to defeat something the way we have seen with the coronavirus. those are the angles i use and i try -- part of the reason i joined this trial was to show people who looked like me that in a lot of ways things have
changed. trials are safe. people are watched. no one is forced to be in a trial. so i figured by doing my part and putting myself out there and sharing that hopefully that will help people if they don't come around to at least get educated on this important topic. >> dr. valerie fitzhugh, thank you for being here and far more importantly, thank you for the work you are doing. coming up, congress will count the electoral college votes next week on january 6th, and "washington post's" david ignatius argues until that time the u.s. is vulnerable. we'll dig into his new piece ahead on "morning joe." ing joe. ♪ we made usaa insurance for veterans like martin. when a hailstorm hit, he needed his insurance to get it done right, right away. usaa. what you're made of, we're made for. usaa
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david ignatius, your op-ed for "the washington post" is entitled until biden's win is certified the u.s. is vulnerable. not to be alarmist, but we should recognize that the united states will be in the danger zone until the formal certification of joe biden's election victory on january 6th. because potential domestic and foreign turmoil could give president trump an excuse to cling to power. the certification should be a pro forma event, but a desperate trump is demanding that house and senate republicans challenge the count and block this final binding affirmation of biden's victory before inauguration day. it will certainly fail in congress, but the bigger danger is on the streets. trump won't succeed in subverting the constitution, but he can do enormous damage over the next weeks. before january 6th, a delegation of senior republicans should
visit him at the white house and insist emphatically biden has won. this must stop. a very important column, david ignatius, but expand a little bit on this and why do you think that they would have any success convincing the president that this is what he should do? >> well, kasie, i think first, responsible republicans are beginning to speak bluntly to the president. i mentioned in my piece one of them, white house counsel pat cipollone who i'm told has been very explicit and forceful in telling the president some of the things he's contemplating, some of the things that are being pushed on him by informal advisers like mike flynn are just wrong or may be illegal. i think other members of the
administration are prepared to speak out if they see the president go further. and what concerns all of these officials is that the president is now moving from rhetorical questioning of the fairness of the election, we have heard it all so many times over making essentially groundless claims to calling on his supporters to come into the streets. he immediate his mope -- he made his latest call in a tweet an saturday in which he said come to washington for this january 6th event. in an earlier tweet, he said come to washington, it will be wild. these are somewhat inflammatory tweets by the president. he'd love to see people obviously by the thousands out in the streets. there's been a request for a permit made to the national park service. and a concern is that these demonstrations could get out of control at a time when the country's tempers are frazzled
after this long, long election process. we could get violence in the streets of the sorts that we saw last summer. d.c. police have been terrific in handling demonstrations. there was a big one on december 12th, two days before the electoral college electoral college met that was handled superbly and officials are hoping that's the case again. i think people need to be aware that there is this date coming up. that there are many members of congress, certainly many in the military who are urging calm making sure this doesn't get out of hand. but until we have that final vote confirmed and ratified by the house and senate, vice president pence read those totals, until that moment we're not quite at the finish line. so i think people will feel some relief when they finally hear pence say the words on january 6th and see -- i hope our law enforcement personnel deal with whatever happens on the streets
in an orderly way. >> steve rattner, as david has laid out here, we have seen an escalation from the president. it's not just angry tweets anymore. we have seen his inaction when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic and of course over the last few day we saw his refusal to sign this bill which disrupted benefits and we encouraged those to bring chaos to the streets of washington, he's pushing his allies in congress to try to disrupt that vote total. if this all goes down and things turn in a bad direction on the 6th if there's more chaos, the same chaos that the president seems to want to end his term with which he began, what kind of economic impact could we see? how do you think the markets will respond to more tumult brought on by the united states president? >> well, the economy, business people, people who are trying to
run their country, chaos is never good for any economy or economic situation and especially obviously when you have chaos coming from the leader at the top. i would say so far, people have largely discounted a lot of the tweeting and the fulminating and all of the weird and crazy stuff he's been doing because as you can see, the stock market certainly has been rather nonplussed by it. i think we have to recognize there's been a significant as i tried to say earlier a significant economic cost already from the president's inaction, from a his indecision, from his failure to lead. you had this bill that was -- since the bill was passed in the spring, you basically had no legislation until this latest bill so you had all of the people who were without their checks, without their stimulus payments, without their unemployment in some cases and all of that has taken an economic toll. all of that i think is wrapped up in some of the weaker economic statistics that we're seeing at the moment. but if we were to get to january 6th, and there were people in the streets and the president
was egging them on, that would be a very bad place for the market to be and would doubtless cause a serious repercussion. so like everybody, i'm hoping that he comes to his senses. >> tough for the markets and tough for the country as a whole as well. coming up, "the new york post" was one of the first publications to endorse president trump four years ago and later urged voters to give him a second term, but now they're out with a new message for the president saying quote, it's time to end this dark charade. we'll take a look at the new pointed piece ahead on "morning joe." inted piece ahead on "morn joe. research shows people remember commercials with nostalgia.
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next week. eugene scott, i have heard this might come down to turnout. what are you hearing? what are you looking at? how do both parties feel about getting their voters to the polls? >> well, what we do know is that republicans are concerned that turnout might not be as high as they need it to secure a victory because the president has created so much mistrust in the elections and part of the reason he's speaking at the dalton -- the rally he's speaking at because that's a county he really needs some turnout to improve if he's going to see some victories in the republican party which obviously the right really needs if they want to thwart whatever joe biden's plans are once he's inaugurated. >> coming up, we'll talk to someone who knows a thing or two about georgia politics. stacey abrams will be our guest. we're back with more in a moment. re in a moment
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remembered for advocating for big checks, but the danger is he'll be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he allows this to expire. i think the best thing to do as i say, sign this and then make the case for subsequent legislation. >> chaos and misery and erratic behavior. republican senator pat toomey using some words that we have heard a lot over the past four years. welcome back to "morning joe." it's monday, december 28th, i'm kasie hunt along with white house reporter for the associated press, jonathan lemire. we are holding down the fort here for joe, mika and willie, and joining the conversation we have msnbc contributor, mike barnicle. editor at large for the nonprofit newsroom the 19th, errin haines. donny deutsch is with us as always, and senior writer at politico, jake sherman.
he is an msnbc political contributor. let's dive right in after a very stressful weekend and a week nearly of uncertainty. the president finally ended a crisis that he set off all by himself. last night, donald trump signed the massive covid relief bill that not only provides money to those who need it, but also avoids a government shutdown that was set to happen tonight. remember, congress passed this bill last monday night on a bipartisan basis and sent it to the president to sign. but instead of doing that, he complained he wanted to raise the stimulus checks to $2,000 a person. that is something he could have advocated for months ago. trump has been at his mar-a-lago golf course. the bill actually had to be flown down to florida to him and eventually, after zero changes were made, president trump finally signed it last night, claiming congress would make changes to meet his demands despite the bill of course now being signed into law.
the president's decision to delay the legislation allowed unemployment benefits for roughly 14 million people to expire and there likely be a delay for millions to get the money that they so desperately need. it also delays the stimulus checks that were expected to begin going out this week. and, jake sherman, i'm sure you and -- i was watching your twitter feed as i was calling sources and sending texts and emails because, frankly, nobody had any idea what the hell was going on and there was no plan "b" for members of congress to potentially avoid a shutdown. people were starting to talk about potentially three weeks of a government shutdown on top of a pandemic with these checks being delayed. what do we know about who finally got through to president trump on this? i mean, certainly i talked to congressional republicans who were scrambling to convince him
not to veto this. >> what a bizarre and embarrassing episode for the president. we have never seen something so strange and misguided. listen, the people who got him to do this are kevin mccarthy and steven mnuchin. mccarthy, his long-time congressional ally and mnuchin who did not have his proxy because he agreed to this this bill. now, listen, the president got nothing here. i'm not sure what the goal was here. he was going to send a red line version to capitol hill, that's not going to matter. he's likely not going to get the $2,000 checks, we can't be certain but he's likely not going to get it. so he exits this process where he began, with a bill that was passed by the congress on an overwhelming basis. it doesn't make any sense to me personally why he put everybody
through this. maybe he's bored, maybe he wants attention. it doesn't make a ton of sense to me. but what a neat encapsulation, kasie, and we put this in the playbook this morning of the last four years. just treats congress like a foreign country that he's exploring for the first time and has never really stopped exploring or tried to understand. thank god the government will not shut down in the middle of a public crisis. >> while the covid relief bill sat in limbo, he had a weekend tweet storm against the justice department and the supreme court. he began to tweeting about the defense bill he vetoed and then attacked the fbi for not investigating his unproven claims of voter fraud of in this year's election which he called the biggest scam. he went on to ask, where the hell is the durham report,
referencing the doj probe on russian involvement in the 2016 election which he wanted outgoing attorney general bill barr to release in time to influence the election. he supported the supreme court justices by saying they were incompetent and weak for refusing to take up the texas' ag lawsuit of voting procedures against four other states. one included a warning. quote, see everyone in d.c. on january 6th when ardent trump supporters will protest against the electoral college vote. "the post" editorial board asked the president to quote, end the stark charade and turn his focus to the helping republicans retain control of the senate. it reads in part, on january
5th, two runoff races in georgia will determine which party will control the senate. whether joe biden will have a rubber stamp or a much-needed check on his agenda. january 6th, congress will certify the electoral college vote. you have tweeted that as long as republicans have quote courage, they can overturn the results and give you four more years in office. in other words, you're cheering for undemocratic coup. it goes on, quote, sidney powell is a crazy person. michael flynn suggesting martial law is tantamount to treason. if you want to submit your influence, even set the stage for a future return, you must channel yourself into something more productive. stop thinking about january 6th and start thinking about january 5th. donny deutsch, what i want to do is ask you just where are you right now and tell you ignore
what room raiders is going to say. but instead, i want to talk about one of your favorite topics -- president trump's psyche. you know how he ticks. do you think after the temper tantrum, and after relenting and getting nothing in the negotiations, do you think that anything will change his behavior including perhaps that scathing piece in what is -- by his own admission, his first read every morning -- "the new york post"? >> jonathan, you know the answer to the question, of course it won't change his behavior but here's the great news, okay? a couple of numbers. 1,800. that's about the amount of days if you include his first year of campaigning we have had to do this every day. put up with the nonsense of him destroying or going after every institution possible, doing destructive things against the country for his own self-ing a
grand diezment. it's old already. as i watch you guys and i'm thinking and i'm preparing what i'm about to say, i'm sure that the viewers at home feel this way also. it's old. it's over. it was a moment in time and it's passing and i think we can all stop pulling our hair out off our head -- i cut a lot of my hair off, by the way. it's over. i know there's another three weeks left and i know david ignatius said we have to be concerned and whatnot, but this going to be so ancient so quickly. as you were reading that last tweet i was saying, god, it's over and it's old and we're moving on and you're going to be in your little bunker a mar-a-lago doing what you do. bye, see ya, it's done. we don't have to torture ourselves anymore. >> well, donny, i think that's part of what a lot of the thinking was over the weekend, as congressional leaders were looking at this. thinking like this is one last gasp of this guy trying to stay relevant and it would have been a way to have had an impact.
but mike barnicle, you know, i'm just so -- i can't stop thinking about the fact that donald trump was at his fancy private club resort in mar-a-lago. he was playing golf. mike pence vacationing in vail, colorado. really nice place. not a place a lot of regular folks get to spend their winter holidays. steven mnuchin, getting flown by private jet to mexico, to go on vacation with his family. while there were millions -- millions of americans who are literally worried -- were incredibly upset and stressed out that perhaps they were going to get kicked out of their apartment. that perhaps they won't have the couple hundred bucks they needed to buy food for their families. they were all at the mercy of this president while he and his top aides were all enjoying holiday vacations. can you just -- i mean, you're so good at capturing, you know,
what it means for -- people who are watching the government and trying to figure out why can't they help me, why? why am i out here stranded alone when the u.s. government should be helping? >> you know, kasie, that's a great question. and it's a great theme, actually, that's been going on in this country and our politics now since january 20th of 2017 when donald trump was inaugurated. because it's been a level of cruelty to him and to his administration that has been consistent and continual throughout his administration. it's always pick on the poor, pick on immigrants and now in this final chapter of his presidency, it's people who are literally not just on the edge, they are over the edge. people who have been living on practically nothing for five, six months, who have lost their jobs. many lost their homes. a lot of them have lost hope.
their children are home from school, all day long. home schooling. that's a disaster. there's multiple levels of corruption, confusion, chaos in this administration. but cruelty is the ultimate theme. and my sense is from listening to this discussion today and past discussions, continually over the last four years, is that we seriously overrate this guy, donald trump. we have enormous respect as an institution, the media, for the office, for the title, the president of the united states. and that's well earned that respect, for the title and for the office. this guy has done great harm to both. and he basically over this past weekend has proven once again something we always knew. that everything to him is a tv show starring him. so he designed this cliff-hanger over the past couple of weeks. he might come back as president.
he might win. he might not sign this thing. we'll see how it goes. but jake, i wanted to ask you off of that, the follow-up question, you know, what really did influence him? was it the thought that -- well, you tell me. was it a single person? was it a combination of thoughts and feelings that were thrown at him? was it "the new york post" editorial? what's your feeling about that? >> he had nowhere to go, mike. he had literally zero room for maneuver. the bill has been passed by congress. he's making demands that are -- that don't have any grounding in reality. the -- his time has come and gone here on this issue. and kevin mccarthy explained that to him. steven mnuchin explained that to him. he's not speaking right now with mitch mcconnell because mcconnell refuses to overturn the election. so he had nowhere to go, mike. i mean, he had -- you know, usually he gets angry at
congress when they ignore him. here, his administration represented that this is what he wanted and then when it came to pass, he said he had no -- he had no interest in it. i mean, a government shutdown when so many people are relying on this federal social safety net would have been tragic and i think that was made clear to him. the senate is in the balance. i'm not sure if any of this matters to him or if it's dispositive to him. he didn't do a signing ceremony. he wasn't very eager or able to tout this achievement, but he was in a box. here's the irony, mike. at this point he's put the senate republicans in a box because when chuck schumer goes to the floor and asks for a vote on the $2,000 checks, some republicans are going to object. most presidents we have covered
try to avoid splitting their party and this president is reveling, he wants to split his party. i don't think that's a strategy, and there's no staff guiding him. thank god the government is funded and thank god people are getting their relief and the new year is beginning soon. >> it is all about the drama, all about the cliff-hanger, wanting all eyes on him for this president, but yet, there was a room ready at mar-a-lago for a signing ceremony had he wanted to do it, but he chose not to. errin, we are talking about the absolute bind that the president has put his own party and we have the georgia runoff just a week or so away, but there are real-world implications. americans who lived in fear if last few years, fearful that their government could shut down at the moment they need it the most, they need this relief and we have a few days, at least,
disruptions of the unemployment benefits because if president let them lapse. remind us of what we should not lose sight of here. this is not just back room machinations and drama. this is all real world. >> this is exactly right. you think of the president's behavior since the election. he has been absent in this -- you know, in terms of this pandemic for most of this year, but certainly since the election from both the public health and an economic standpoint. i mean, here's a president in his final days who could be touting the vaccine, the light that is finally at the end of a very uncertain, chaotic and devastating year for millions of americans and then, you know, the -- at least bridge or band-aid of this pandemic relief that was, you know, that millions of americans really are
dependent upon. this is not, you know, just about money for people who may not need it. i mean, i read, you know, the stories of the pandemic. we write stories at the 19th about the people who are suffering from this pandemic, whether they ever get sick or not, but from an economic standpoint, who are really just trying to hold on and kind of weather what has been a devastating 2020. wondering how they'd pay their mortgage, wondering if they'd be evicted from their apartment, wondering how they're going to feed their families and absolutely keeping the focus on the people who do not have time to follow the machinations of the government and dependent on the lawmakers who are charged to carry out, they don't understand. they say that in quote after quote. they don't understand, you know, why the president would have held this us. they certainly are not interested in this kind of game
of will he or won't he. it was aimed at refocusing the press's attention on the outgoing president, who hasn't been really seen or heard much from since losing the election except to kind of continue to claim he didn't. and this is the theme that the democrats are hammering in the ground on georgia, and that the pandemic is tied to the stake of the future of senate and the incoming administration. >> yeah, errin, i'm glad you brought that up, but i would like some help trying to explain more about that and joining us now is former rnc consultant, matt gorman. your challenge here is a bit complicated. can you explain us to what the hell happened with the president? what have republicans been
saying to him privately? i know in public, they haven't said a whole lot. there have been a couple of them, we heard pat toomey say, mr. president, sign this bill, or you'll be remembered for this erratic behavior. it is almost like the ultimate parting gift is not a strong enough way to put it, but i mean, this president has so many times made life so hard for senate republicans and they have gone along. they have, you know, propped him up in many ways and i just -- can you explain us to the dynamic here between this president and senate republicans? >> well, first of all, look, the republicans needed two things that trump -- from trump as he went out the door. number one, he needed to sign the covid bill which thankfully after the delay he did. and now they need him to go to georgia and rile up the base. rile up our base. that was a concern.
i think especially because it's a random tuesday in january. they needed him to do that. i'll echo what jake said, he got nothing from this. you know, congressional leaders in this sort of scenario can guarantee processes. they can't guarantee outcomes. i think in large part as they said the $2,000 is going to divide the caucus, but in some respects i think what we're seeing is almost the first contours of the sim us will under a biden presidency. democrats took state and local off the table, funding, as we went into this. i think we'll see the democrats align around the $2,000 checks that will come up again. so in some ways i think we're seeing a biden presidency negotiation now. >> very quickly, matt, did you read the president's statement that he got a commitment from mcconnell or senate republicans
generally to let their challenge to the electoral college challenge proceed on january 6? >> possibly. the one in 2004 when stephanie tubbs jones did it with barbara boxer, it was about four minutes. it will be very quick, if that. maybe senator tuberville does it. the crucial part was finding that senator. maybe it happens, maybe it doesn't, but it could happen. >> matt, i want to pick up on exactly that point. you know, let's say this does happen and it's a testament again to how the president sort of has the party in the palm of his hand in many ways. how do the republicans move forward from that? january 6th will come and go, joe biden will be president. but are there going to be the loyalty tests, should we expect them every few weeks or months? are they still jumping up and down depending on how higher the president's twitter tells them
to do? is someone going to step forward and say, enough is enough. we don't have to listen to this guy anymore? >> well, i have to disagree with donny, i don't think trump is going anywhere and that doesn't mean the media won't cover him. look back to what he was in 2011 to 2015 before he ran. he was ubiquitous on cable news. if you remember in 2020 -- 2012, a lot of the presidential contenders will be asked about his tweets and statements. he is not going anywhere. i think in some respects you're going to see folks like nikki haley, mike pence and mike pompeo freeze a little bit until they have some clarity on what he'll do and he'll relish that, relish freezing the field. >> donny, nothing we like more than a little "morning joe" disagreement. matt says he takes issue with your point. you have the floor. respond. >> okay, great. look, donald trump's not going anywhere because he's a media
critic, but enough. he's a lame duck, it's over, he lost. like we have to kind of -- kind of stop to say, like it's an hour and 20 minutes into the show and matt is the first time you mentioned -- that the name joe biden was mentioned. enough with donald trump. he's done. he lost and we the media have to be a bit disciplined and not continue to just cover this jerk every time there's this flatulence. i mean, enough already. he lost, it's done. we are guilty of keeping him front and center all the time. why did he decide to do what he did about the bill, who cares at this point. you're done, you lost, good-bye and we the media have to come to grips with that and be -- great, he'll be a tv star and be doing what he's doing. but he's irrelevant in terms of running this country and making decisions and let's not forget
to understand that. >> donny to that point, i mean, the point we were so focused on this is because he had the power to veto the bill and once he in fact exits he won't have that power any longer so your point is well taken. >> no. i wasn't -- i wasn't -- it's an everyday thing with every network everywhere. we are almost -- it's this weird drug that we're all attached to at this point. i'm just cheerleading, you know, basically saying like, hey, the wicked witch is dead. we don't have to guess what's in his head anymore. you're gone, buddy. we at the media have to kind of celebrate that a little bit. not that we shouldn't be covering it, i was not clear what i was saying, but it's like let's -- >> fine. >> okay? kasie, i never want to upset you barically with mike barnicle.
because it's a privilege when i'm on the same screen, the same panel as mike barnicle and i don't want to take that for granted. >> we love you both. matt gorman, thanks to you as well for joining in this little "morning joe" family discussion. we are going to take donny's advice and we are going to move on, up to 90% -- that is the latest estimate from dr. anthony fauci on just how many americans would need to get vaccinated for the u.s. to reach herd immunity. he revised the numbers up from 60% to 70% of the population since the start of the pandemic. to about 75% to 80% of the month. it is based partly he said on science and that the public is finally prepared to hear what he really thinks. >> we have to realize that we have to be humble and realize what we don't know.
these are pure estimates and the calculations that i made, 70%, 75% it's a range. the range is between 70% and 85%. the reason i said 70, 75%, it's not a big leap to go from 75 to 85, but it was based on calculations and pure extrapolations from measles. measles is about 98% effective vaccine. the covid-19 vaccine is about 94%, 95%. so the bottom line is, it's a guesstimate. i gave a range and i use any discussion like we're having now to encourage people to get to that goal of 70% to 85% of the people vaccinated that's where we really want to be. >> not everyone though is accepting dr. fauci's revised estimate on just how many americans should take the
coronavirus vaccine. republican senator marco rubio of florida accused dr. fauci of quote, lying about masks and quote, distorting the level of vaccination needed for herd immunity. many on twitter pointed out senator rubio's hypocrisy. former secretary of labor robert reich tweeted, after months of downplaying the virus, marco rubio is attacking dr. fauci but he was first in line to get the vaccination? and a rely to senator rubio, attacking scientists for not everything they need to know about a novel virus is absurd. marco rubio calling dr. anthony fauci a liar. just a few days after he himself because he's a member of congress got to be first in line to take this vaccine even though he's young and healthy and at much lower risk than many other
americans. joe is not here to opine on marco rubio who is obviously a favorite topic of ours. what do you think about what the senator said? >> it's a definition of obscenity, you know, what marco rubio said, what he tweeted. you know, about anthony fauci, the fact that he even stood in line and was among the first to get vaccinated after making fun of vaccinations, after ignoring covid, after ignoring helping people, after standing up in support of donald trump and he's not alone and one of the great subplots of this story when history is written is going to be what happened in the united states senate among the republican membership of the united states? what were they thinking, what were they doing when they witnessed all of the other obscenities that have been inflicted upon america and american citizens for the last four years? what were they thinking? and marco rubio is not alone.
there's a long list of cowards who wilted in the face of twitter being afraid of a tweet from the president of the united states, kasie. it's not a very proud moment for the united states senate. certainly not a very proud moment for marco rubio as an individual. >> mike, i won't weigh in on your -- the quality of your joe scarborough impersonation, but what i want is the thoughts on the trade of snell to the san diego padres. coming up, we'll be joined by the problem solvers caucus, to provide the $2,000 relief checks. you're watching "morning joe" and we'll be right back. it's time for the lowest prices of the season on the sleep number 360 smart bed. can it help with snoring? i've never heard snoring. ...exactly. no problem. ...and done. and now, the queen sleep number 360 c2 smart bed is only $899. plus, no interest until january 2024. only for a limited time.
but to play this old switcheroo game which is kind of like i don't get the point, i don't understand that's being done, why -- unless it's just to create chaos and show power because he's upset he lost the election, otherwise, i don't understand it. >> what is in fact the point? what was the point of all of that? after all of that unfolded today house democrats are going to again try to increase coronavirus relief checks to $2,000 and joining us now are two cochairs, john reed and josh gottheimer of new jersey. they both worked extensively on the compromise that the president finally signed in to law last night. congressman reed, i think we're all struggling to understand what was the point of this exercise? it threw millions of americans into anxiety. they're all wondering when the next check is actually going to come and from a political
perspective, the president is showing that democrats want $2,000 checks and in fact, republicans in the senate don't want $2,000 checks because we know this is likely to die in mitch mcconnell's senate. as someone who is invested in this process, what do you say to the president about what unfolded? >> i say, thank you for signing the bill in the sense that now we have the $900 billion covid relief flowing to the people and working with 50 members of congress, equally divided and that's going to grow in the next congress. that's putting politics first and thank goodness we have leaders like gottheimer to get this all done and this blindsided all of it. i understand that the president wanted to raise the checks that's his position on the matter. what we were able to do is communicate with him. i'll be voting for that bill because josh and i have supported increased checks. but we'll do through the process in the house and we'll leave it
up to the senate. >> congressman gottheimer, i wanted to talk to you about the implications the last few days of drama, seemingly pointless drama, had had on your constituents. can you walk us through the disruption of the unemployment benefits and the voters in your district, just the psychic toll of the uncertainty in the fear that the government could shut down when it's needed the most as the pandemic surges out of control? >> what i heard from so many people in northern new jersey is -- in the end it was a manufactured crisis and unnecessary roller coaster, but why did we take them through this? and, you know, people as you know are hurting right now. we lost 330,000 people in our country, here we have lost one in 530% of small businesses have gone out.
i have heard from small businesses, families, i don't understand, my check is going to disappear for unemployment because the president hasn't signed the bill and wanting to know what's going on and how do we get this done. as tom said, you know, we have been at work the last days, the last months trying to get our leadership at the table, trying to get people to just say, how do we get people relief instead of playing politics with the pandemic? and ultimately, the good news is today it's going to start happening with the small business loans, ppe in the second round, unemployment, food insecurity, because so many people are in food lines for the very first time and also vaccine distribution. we have the resources to get the vaccine out which is critical right now, add to the rental assistance, so people aren't evicted at the end of the year. our jobs is to make people's lives better and get through this crisis and into the next administration. i think finally with that signature we can begin to do that.
but why do we take this country through this when they're hurting so badly and people are hurting so badly makes no sense to me. but the good news is that people will get help today, communities will get help today, the direct checks will go out the door. hopefully we'll vote to give another additional resource out to people that they desperately need. >> speaking of getting us into the next administration, congressman reed, my question for you -- we have been talking a lot today about what will unfold on january 6th when the electoral college votes are certified. it is typically pro forma, but we have heard congresswoman debbie dingell said they expect as many as 70 of your colleagues to make speeches about the election results and whether they should be overturned. we have the president urging people to go out into the streets. what do you expect from your colleagues in terms of this effort and what would you urge them to do in the face of, you know, david ignatius was on with us earlier, warning this is a
very dangerous period for us to be in both here at home and also in terms of how we interact with our foreign adversaries. >> well, first, i start with, you know, reminding members that we are members of congress and we uphold the constitution. and as a proud republican and as a proud conservative, i look to the constitution to guide us through us and it's given us great comfort over the last 200 how we are an example to the rest of the world. you recognize -- a lot of folks on your show talked about president trump, but what they have been missing -- the millions of americans that are behind president trump that do truly believe that this election was fraudulently taken from the president. that's their belief. now, you may not agree with that. you may disagree with that but that's millions of american people that have to go through this process. >> wait, but they believe that -- they believe that because president trump has told them that over and over and over
and over again. that's what they see on social media. i mean, that's where that message is coming from. >> that's a complete disrespect to the wisdom of the american people. they have come to the conclusion on their own. that is with -- you're turning your back on the wisdom of the people that have come to that conclusion themselves that's very disrespectful to the american people. how ever they got that -- >> look, i try to be very careful. i cover you guys on the hill every day and i understand that, you know, people vote the way they do, because of the believes that they have. but you have republican state officials -- republicans -- elected republicans saying that the results are legitimate. these results are real. brad raffensberger in georgia has threats coming in against his family because he's willing to do that. i'm not trying to denigrate people who are working hard and who are perhaps had different beliefs than those who vote for your colleagues on the other side of the aisle. that is not what i'm doing. but where is this message coming from?
it's coming from president trump and it is being amplified on right-wing media. >> i was one early to recognize the president-elect and i stand for that transition of power. and that is what sees us through this time. but you need to have -- make sure that you have an open ear to the millions of americans that are going through this process that are very upset right now. they call my office incessantly and what i do is i stand and i take those calls and we do town halls and we talk to them. we say, you need to look at the big picture. you need to look at where our constitution takes us and you need to understand in order to win elections you need to make sure that you win at the ballot box and even if people may take advantage of the ballot box, maybe if people outfox you at the ballot box, you play at the ballot box and that's where the debate ends. >> it's obviously an important
point. congressman reed, i know you and i have had conversations about this bill and you've worked on a bipartisan basis around that. it does show you the power of this megaphone that the president has and we've been talking about whether he'll have that when he leaves. thank you very much for the lively discussion, and josh gottheimer, thank you as well. what are shaping up to be the most expensive senate raises in history. stacey abrams will look at the runoffs in georgia that will determine the balance of power in the senate. "morning joe" is coming right back. enate. "morning joe" is coming right back
they should. again, all i can do is say i'm running, win, then do a good job as president. i don't run the elections. i don't run to see if people are walking in with suitcases and putting them under the table with a black robe around it. i don't do that. that's up to your government here and for whatever reason, your secretary of state and your governor are afraid of stacey abrams. they're afraid of her. >> that was the president speaking three weeks ago at a rally in valdosta, georgia, for david perdue and kelly loeffler. joining us now, former minority leader in the georgia house of representatives, stacey abrams, the founder of fair fight action and fair fight 2020 to promote fair elections across the country. stacey, good morning. thank you so much for being here. i wanted to bring you into the conversation that we have been having all morning about the unnecessary chaos that the president has created here over
the covid relief bill and whether or not the government would close and of course we know that there is some disruptions for unemployment benefits and a lot of fear from voters just as they need the help the most it would stop. so let me ask you, is this now the democrats' closing argument? >> it absolutely is. we know that while kelly loeffler and david perdue have profited from the pandemic they have done nothing to stand up to mitch mcconnell. they have done nothing to demand access to these resources for families. we have 161,000 georgians who face eviction now. we have more than 4.1 million job losses that have been claimed. we have 25% of the small businesses that were in operation in 2019 have closed down and shut down in 2020 and our two senators have done nothing but to cater to, kowtow and failed to get relief to georgians and to americans. we are looking forward to having
jon ossoff and raphael warnock going to the senate and making sure we have leadership for the state of georgia for the first time in a while. >> errin, you're a georgia native. i wanted to kind of bring you into this and get your assessment of the race and have you take a question to stacey. early voting numbers are off the charts. similarly more in person than by mail. what's your assessment of the race to this point with a week to go? >> well, that the pandemic is absolutely political and it is factoring into what is happening down in georgia. you had david perdue and kelly loeffler both voting for the legislation, the pandemic relief that the president was, you know, very critical of, in valdosta, he was continuing to rail about voter fraud even when he was asking the republicans to participate in the election.
you know, i don't know how helpful you know he is going to be here coming down on election eve to maybe make the case, half-heartedly for republicans to vote for loeffler and perdue and feels like was stolen from him. but i think, you know, democrats certainly seem to have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. our voting, even as the pandemic from an economic and public health standpoint is continuing to rage in places like my home state, i think if i was going to ask stacey a question, i think you are obviously somebody to continued to expand the electorate and georgia has a governor who angered voters during the primary and general election saying that he contributed to some of the voter suppression down there. i have heard from a lot of georgians this year who already wish you were in charge.
so i will ask again, even though i know you are focused on january 5th and the senate runoffs, are you eying a rematch against governor kemp in 2022? >> i am focused on, as you very well understand, is making certain we have a state to protect. right now we have two u.s. senators who will not push back, will not fight for georgians, who need this relief. we have a governor who has been feckless. we have 10,000 people dead from covid, 600,000 cases, and we are a state that's -- we are a quarter of the size of california and yet we have roughly half to 30% of their death rate and their contraction rate. that means that we need leadership across the board, but our focus has to begin with the u.s. senate. joe biden needs partners in the u.s. senate who are willing to work to actually provide not only the stopgap relief of 600 or $2,000, but provide the permanent relief that we are going to require in a state where 600,000 people have been
contracted covid and we are losing hospitals, where we have two u.s. senators who have fought to destroy access to health care. we need jon ossoff and raphael warnock, and my work is focused solely and exclusively on ensuring that joe biden has the partners he needs to help move our state and country forward. >> kasie hunt here. i want to keep the focus on the senate runoffs, as you want to. i think a lot of us who are watching this race from farther away from than we wish, partly because of the coronavirus pandemic limiting travel so much, but this is really unprecedented. we have never had a pair of runoff elections set to determine control of the senate in the middle of a holiday period, and i think there is a lot of reckoning with what is going to happen here. a lot of people don't trust the polls because of what we saw happen again in 2020, but the reality is that in georgia specifically both of the senate committees going in had polling
numbers that basically bore out, it was basically correct. they accurately calculated that joe biden was going to win the state and by how much. but we have a lot less information here. i know you are someone who knows the state really well, who sees all of that data, who has been working with a lot of that data and who probably has a better sense than the rest of us of how this is actually going to play out. i am curious, are you confident that democrats will win these elections, or do you think we may be in a scenario where it's so close that we are counting votes for weeks, or do you think we are going to see two republicans re-elected? >> i think it's going to be a very narrow decision. we have more than 2 million ballots have already been cast in this race. we are heading into the third week of early voting. we have 1.3 million people who voted in person. we have 700,000 absentee ballots that have been returned with hundreds of thousands more that can still be returned, including my own, i am turning mine in today. we are doing the hard work of reaching voters who did not
participate in the november elections. 65,000 georgians who did not vote in november are voting in this election. and we know that they are disproportionately between the ages of 18 and 29 and they are disproportionately people of color. so what we know is that there are new voices joining the electorate because of the urgency and exigency of this contest. but we have narrow margins in this state. we saw that in november. we saw it in 2018. we will see it again because we are also facing the just vial attacks from through the vote who challenged 364,000 georgia voters in the midst of a runoff. fair fight has filed suit against them because we will not let them intimidate our voters and scare them from the polls because we know that is one of the tactics that republicans are counting on to win this election. this will be a narrow count and we don't know which way it will tip, but we are doing our best to make certain that democrats come out and we win this election.
>> donny deutsch has a question. >> hey, stacey, nice to chat with you. congratulations on all your great work. let's just look at this nationally for a second. am i dreaming in that with now kind of a, regardless of what happens in georgia, on both sides of the aisle you have some people who could move towards -- you have mitt romney, man shen shun, hickenlooper, susan collins, regardless of who has the majority, there is a chance of both sides working together. am i smoking something or is there a possibility in this new world that could happen? >> the challenge is as long as mitch mcconnell is the majority leader, he can put a kibosh on everything. he can stifle any progress. the h.e.r.o.e.s. act sat in the senate for more than eight months without action because he refused to take it up. he refused to take action on a number of issues that, yes, have bipartisan support. but if you have one man who is
intractable and who states his political reputation on blocking progress, then it doesn't really matter how many people want to be in the middle if you can't get any movement on the ground. >> stacey abrams, thank you very much. and coming up, the cover. new yorker shows a changed city in the wake of the covid pandemic. it's the incredible reporting inside the magazine that really tells the tale of communities across the country grappling with the virus. and in many ways, losing that fight. we'll talk about that straight ahead on "morning joe."
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nobody knows the system better than me. which is why i alone can fix it. >> he did tell us he would fix the country's problems. what he didn't mention is he would create many crises and then act like he solved them. after causing days of legislative chaos, he reversed course signing the combined coronavirus relief government funding bill. welcome to "morning joe." it's monday, december 28th. we swear, 2020 is almost over. i am jonathan lemire. along with nbc news capitol hill correspondent and host of "way too early" kasie hunt we have been hand the keys it the car
this morning by joe, mika, and willie. to help keep us on the road we have columnist for "the washington post" david ignatius and, kasie, "the art of the deal," it was not. my question to you, just what was the point of all that? >> that's a great question, jonathan. and i spent most of the weekend talking to a number of particularly republicans, but also democrats, and that is exactly where they all are. everyone sent this bill to president trump after literally months of all of this fighting, they finally got it to him and he created this, as you said, from nothing. and instead he delivered a week of uncertainty. finally, of course, ending that crisis by signing the bill late last night. it not only provides money to those who need it. it also avoids a government
shutdown that otherwise was going to happen tonight. remember congress passed this bill last monday night on a bipartisan basis and sent it to the president to sign on christmas eve. but instead of signing it, he complained that he wanted to raise the stimulus checks to $2,000 a person. that's something he could have advocated for months ago, and trump has been at his mar-a-lago golf course. the bill actually had to be flown down to florida to him. eventually, after zero changes were made, he finally signed it last night claiming that congress would make changes to meet his demands despite the bill already being signed into law. the president's decision to delay the legislation allowed unemployment benefits for roughly 14 million people to expire. and there will likely be a delay for millions to get the money that they so desperately need. it also delays the stimulus checks that were expected to begin going out this week.
so, jonathan lemire, a couple of things here. first of all, the delay on those stimulus checks means that for the two senators, the republican senators trying to keep their seats in georgia, there is a chance their constituents aren't going to get those checks before actual election day. that's something republicans really wanted. but also i know that there was an incredible behind-the-scenes scramble on the part of republicans to try to convince the president to do this. it was partly because of georgia, but there had to have been other arguments. my question to you as someone who covers the white house is, what finally got through to him? what made him finally decide that he was going to cave and actually do this? and i realize that they gave him that signing statement as a way for him to kind of have a little bit of political cover and he made all these demands, but the reality is none of those demands actually mean anything in the context of congress. they are really just political cover. so why did he give in? >> you made a good point about
georgia. this election is a week away and this doesn't help those two republicans' case at all to hold on that their seats and therefore the gop majority in the house of congress. you are right, it's been a non-stop lobbying campaign. senator lindsey graham was on the golf course with him, he heard from kevin mccarthy, other allies at capitol hill and in the media who were telling him, conservative media telling him this is damaging, this is going to undo parts of your legacy here in the 11th hour. other advisors in the white house, and let's be clear, that is an ever shrinking circle, suggested to him, kasie, that this was also going to potentially hurt whatever he wants to do next. we know, of course, everything right now is -- he is priming for his next step. as much as he is fighting this election still, as much as he is pinning his hopes on the electoral college certification next week, he knows, and people around him know, that he won't be president anymore and it's a question of how to set himself up for what's next, making
money, being in the media or potentially running in 2024. david ignatius, how appropriate is it, would you say, that we are in the near final days, 20-odd days left of the trump administration, that we end with the same sort of chaos that it began? >> well, there is a cemetery, a president came in to disrupt, certainly has disrupted almost every aspect of our national life and he is leaving in what may be the most tumultuous disruption of all. we will have to see what happens january 6th. the president in his recent tweets, the tweet on saturday denounced members of congress yet again for failing to come to his support and his false claims that the election was fraudulent. and then eventually invited his supporters to come into the streets. there is a big rally that trump supporters are planning for
washington, d.c. on january 6th, the day that the house and senate are supposed to count the votes. it will be the last day that any legal challenge could be made to the next presidency of joe biden. so i think he is calling on his supporters to be as disruptive as he is. there are a lot of people who are following this very carefully in the government, who are concerned about trump's actions. the fact that he backed down on the stimulus checks after a week of disruption and anger may mean that he will do something similar when it comes to counting the electoral votes. it's hard to tell right now. but your point, he is going out exactly the way he came in. that's absolutely right. >> i know it's an absolutely great point. and i think it also underscores here, david, that we are going to see another day where the
president is making it incredibly hard, as hard as possible for his own allies in congress, who are going to be put in this position where they are going to have to vote against a president as they worry about what he might do to to them when he is finally out of office. let's bring in our reporters to talk more about what they know. national political reporter for nbc news josh lederman is traveling with the president in west palm beach. "politico" senior white house correspondent and co-author of the "politico playbook" anna palmer. and reporter for "the washington post" eugene scott. josh, you are on the ground there with the president. i know you were tracking this late into the night last night. the split-screen realities, the difference between where the president and his top advisors, the vice president, mike pence, the treasury secretary steven mnuchin, what they were doing while the president was dithering about whether he was going to sign this versus the
millions of americans who were at home trying to figure out if they were going to be able to pay rent this week, if they were going to be evicted from their homes because that eviction moratorium included in this bill wasn't going to become law, the nervousness, the insecurity, the challenges that all of those americans were facing as the president and the team that he leads were all on vacation. and i know you have been reporting some pretty damning, frankly, details about how that has all been unfolding. what have you learned about what they have been doing in public and also behind the scenes as we have been grappling with this crisis. >> well, you are absolutely right, kasie. the dire consequences of the president not signing this legislation in a timely way was not reflected in the way that he and his top aides were carrying themselves out over the holidays. the president spent three of the last four days at his golf
course here in west palm beach. the only day he didn't golf was a morning when it was a little too chilly in south florida and instead the president spent that morning grievance tweeting about both the election and about his concerns about this legislation. vice president mike pence, he was in vail, colorado, enjoying time with family. steve mnuchin, the treasury secretary, who bore so much criticism for having been the one to tell congress that the president supported this legislation and, indeed, would sign it, he, according to our sources, is off in mexico at a private home he owns at a resort there spending time with his family. now, officials said that the president was still in contact with members of his administration. obviously, lindsey graham came down here apparently to try to talk the president out of this last-minute gambit that he was making. but the reality is that over the last several days, kasie, it became increasingly clear that this was not just about some
11th hour concerns that the president woke up to about this legislation, but this had become fully enmeshed with his continuing grievances about the election. the president sensed that republicans were insufficiently loyal to him, were not going along with his ploy to try to overturn the results of the election, and the president in his final days in office eager to show that he is still in charge, he can still command the conversation, he can still create a crisis that will engulf washington even as everyone is off trying to enjoy their holidays or trying to prepare themselves for relief so badly needed by the coronavirus, and ultimately the president was able to end that crisis as quickly as he started it, but not without significant pain for millions of americans who needed that unemployment insurance not next week, not the week after, but right now. >> josh lederman, thank you so much. you make a terrific point about how the president with this crisis was able to turn the attention on him again. command center stage as so much
of the world has moved on and sort of focused on president-elect joe biden as he begins to prepare to take office in less than a month. coming up, "politico's" anna palmer joins us with more on the role mitch mcconnell played in all of this. plus, you can't talk about a spending shutdown without some of steve ratner's famous charts. that ahead when "morning joe" comes right back. see every delivery...
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♪ i want to talk to you about what's next. as we outlined, the president didn't really get anything here outside of a bunch of cable chyrons and frantic tweets. there is no real suggestion, right, that the two houses of congress here are going to make my changes to the bill despite what the president has sent back in his red-lined letter last night? >> yeah, i mean, trump got taken to the cleaners based on a
crisis of his own making. i think it's a real fitting thing for the trump presidency where you have this experiment the last four years that was basically a leader who didn't know washington, that was going to come in and change the way it worked, and clearly that hasn't happened. he created a crisis. republicans are no longer just falling in line behind him, and he never cared to really understand congress and that became very clear over the last four years, and certainly in the last episode, that he has just because he tweets things and his followers may support him, that doesn't mean that's what's going to happen in congress. even his $2,000 direct payment checks, we haven't heard a word from mitch mcconnell that he is going to bring that up as a possibility. he literally got nothing except for several days of chaos. >> yeah, i mean, anna, all this does is underscore the fact that democrats want the $2,000 checks and it's republicans in the
senate who don't want them and that's why the checks are set at $600. it's confounding, the political situation. let's bring in former treasury official and "morning joe" economic analyst steve rattner. steve, you have your famous charts that really help underscore what this bill means for the millions of americans who have been waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for help, and, you know, even just this delay that the president made at the last week or so has an impact. explain it to us. >> sure, kasie. well, what my charts show today, because we didn't know late last night what's going to happen, what's at stake, and by implication, who is going to benefit from it. the core are the unemployed americans. there are over 20 million unemployed americans receiving unemployment insurance at one time or another, and right now we have 14 million for whom this
was really on the line. that's basically two groups of people. it's approximately 9 million people who were getting expanded eligibility under c.a.r.e.s. they were getting extra time of unemployment payments even after the normal 26 weeks that people get under the state programs had expired. and then, secondly, you had a larger group of people who work in the so-called gig economy, who are uber drivers, dash deliverers who would have got no unemployment under the pre-existing programs. that's about 14 million people, and that number, as you can see on the chart, was essentially remaining constant in this 14 million range, even though the number of people, the gig workers were declining but the number of people on this extended 14-week program was increasing. 14 million people whose lives were on the line who lost their unemployment insurance on december 26th because this expired who are now going to get
back at least some additional unemployment. in addition, you have all of the people, these two groups plus about 5 million people who are receiving regular unemployment insurance who had lost the $600 a week back in the end of july that had expired, and now we will get back $300 a week, which is not 600, but at least it's something. but their lives are on the line. all of this is against the backdrop of an economy that is showing signs of slowing in large part because many of these programs had expired at the end of july. and so just in the last few days the end of last week we had a number of disappointing data reports. we can look at a few of them here. you had consumer confidence starting to turn down. you had consumer spending, which was supposed to go down a little bit, go down by a good bit more. personal income also fell off fairly substantially, and that had a lot to do with the end of the stimulus programs. and new home sales, which were quite strong over the summer and fall as people tried to get --
tried to trade up to slightly nicer homes or move to the country or whatever it is they wanted to do, those have also started falling off as a result of this uncertainty. we are looking at a situation in which the economy was really starting to slow down. you saw it also in new claims for unemployment insurance. we will get a new monthly jobs figure on january 8th. it's possible it will show a loss of jobs. this was critical to help the overall economy start to resume a more normal pattern of recovery, which had really started to fade away, and, secondly, to help all these people who lost their jobs, who are out of work and really depending on the federal government for help. and thanks to donald trump and the slowness with which congress acted are really getting nothing, kasie. coming up, "the new yorker" is doing something it's done on handful of occasion in the magazine's long history. devoting nearly the entire issue to a single subject. in this case, what went so wrong with america's response to the
coronavirus. lawrence wright with his new reporting straight ahead on "morning joe." oe." ok everyone, our mission is to provide complete, balanced nutrition for strength and energy. whoo-hoo! great tasting ensure with 9 grams of protein, 27 vitamins and minerals, and nutrients to support immune health.
welcome back. 19 million. that is the number of total coronavirus cases the u.s. just passed over the weekend. joining us is pulitzer prize-winning author and staff writer at "the new yorker" lawrence wright. back in april lawrence published a novel about a global pandemic sparked by a mysterious virus that originated in asia. as that premise grew more and more prescient, spent the last seven months interviewing public health experts, front line workers and key voices across federal and local government in his sweeping reporting coming together in the magazine's latest issue in a piece titled the plague year, the mistakes and struggles behind an american tragedy. mike barnicle and errin haines are still here with us, as well. lawrence, this is incredible reporting on a really terrible year for all of us, and in this you identify a couple of key turning points where we may have
been able to have affected a different outcome than what we have seen with so many hundreds of thousands of americans dead. walk us through the key points in your view in how this failure unfolded. >> thank you, kasie. yeah, we had, i think, three great chances to lessen the tram tragedy that america has endured. the first began january 3rd when robert redfield, the head of the cdc spoke to his counterpart in china about this unidentified pneumonia that was sweeping through wuhan. and on that occasion, and subsequently, gao repeatedly assured redfield that there was no human-to-human transmission, and he also refused to help, get the cdc experts into china to check it out for themselves. and the chinese government turned down any further requests, and redfield is
convinced, had we been able to get into china and look at the situation, we would have found out one of the most important features of this new virus, which is that it spreads asymptomatically. and we didn't really know that definitively until mid-march. so we lost, you know, three months almost to this wrong assumption that only symptomatic people could spread the disease. the second was the catastrophe of the testing. the cdc, you know, is the world's foremost authority on this, and yet they stumbled so badly. they were making kits for public health labs that were flawed. and only really, there were three elements in this kit, this test kit, and only one element actually failed. the test without the third element was fine, but it took the fda and the cdc most of february to figure out that they could allow this test to
circulate without -- with simply removing that third element. and the final last chance we had was masks. you know, it's been a public health orthodoxy that masks weren't really that important, and yet in china, for instance, in hong kong the densest city in the world, there was no community spread of this disease. and that's because 90% of the people were wearing masks. but, you know, for two reasons, you know, americans aren't used to doing that, and the president, when he announced that mask-wearing would be a policy, said that he was not -- he was choosing not to do it himself, so he undermined and politicized the process from the very start. >> lawrence, you focus on the role that indeed president trump played in the spread of this virus. i am going to read from your piece here. quote, trump by his words and example became not a leader but a saboteur. he subverted his health agencies by installing political
operatives who meddled with the science and suppressed the truth. his crowded unmasked political rallies were reckless agents of ef frontry. he said he would is can his health officials to slow the testing down, impeding data collection to make his administration look better. when the inevitable happened and he contracted the disease he almost certainly spread it. every guest tested negative for the virus before entering. trump may well have been the superspreader at the rose garden event. lawrence, we know that wasn't the only one. election night there was a party in the west wing as well where a number of cases have been traced. walk us through a little more about how the president failed. you mentioned masks. i know people around him say that's their biggest second-guess of this entire year, if he, in march or april, came out strongly for mask-wearing, not only would that have cut down infections dramatically across the country, but perhaps reversed his own political fortunes.
beyond masks, where else did president trump let down his country in response to this pandemic? >> there are two items i would point to. one is the politicization of our health agencies. just one example, micro caputo was appointed to be the chief spokesperson for the health and human services department, which oversees the cdc and the fda and the nih, all of our premier agencies. who is this guy? roger stone's best friend. one example is that he decided to come up with a pr campaign that would defeat despair and help our president help us, sort of a "jerry maguire" line. so he snatched $300 million out of the cdc budget to finance this, what turned out to be an aborted campaign. but that's an example of the kind of politicization of the messaging that was so critical
in helping -- it would have been so helpful for americans to have straight talk from their health leaders from the beginning, but the trump administration turned those agencies into captive organizations. the other thing that signaled failure occurred in march on a telephone call with the nation's governors, the 50 governors were on a call with the president, and he was saying, you know, we are behind you and so on, but then he spelled out what that means. as for ppe and other things, you should get it yourselves. the governors were totally unprepared for this. instead of having one great pandemic sweeping our country, we had 50. each of these governors had to invent on the spot their own plan. like gretchen whitmer, the governor of michigan, told me, they only had enough ppe for the next shift. they were totally out.
there was no -- you know, the governor of rhode island, she asked for a shipment of ppe from the national storehouse and they sent her an empty truck. you know, the absence of a national plan present that we were crippled from the beginning. >> mike barnicle, it is so infuriating to hear, for a president so consumed with his legacy, hard to imagine anything else could be it other than this. i know you read the piece. please take a question for lawrence. >> infuriating but not surprising, jonathan. and lawrence, it is an epic piece of reporting and writing, and it is filled with heroes. one of them dr. john brooks at the cdc. and you are writing about him and you quote him as saying, when the science changed, we changed, and our recommendations changed, too. and then you write, but by that time, the cdc had been muzzled by the trump administration. could you speak to the muzzling
of the trump administration -- the trump administration on the cdc and others and the impact it has had on us today? >> well, a good example, mike, would be nancy messinie made a statement in march with the prospects for the coronavirus. you know, the country was still -- you know, anxious moment. is it going to hit here in a big way? what should we expect? and the president was always upbeat saying, you know, we are in total control, we've got this under control, and she made a statement, you should start making plans for having children out of school. you should be, you know, stock up on groceries and things like that. we need to be prepared. you need to have contingency plans. well, the stock market tanked. and after that the cdc was not
allowed to have independent messaging. even the most sacred publication in american health organizations is the morbidity and mortality weekly report, and as michael caputo and others tried to control and, indeed, did control the kind of messaging that came out about our public health. and so, you know, we were wrong-footed by the kind of messaging that even our best health agencies were putting out. >> you know, in terms of being on the wrong foot, you point out in the piece that the trump administration, the incoming trump administration had access to the obama playbook and how to deal with contagions and viruses, and they basically threw it away. and they began something called crimson contagion, an operation. could you speak to that, please?
>> yeah. thanks, mike. this took place over most of the year of 2019 and culminated in table top exercise in august, overseen by officials of the health and human services. and what it does, it took, you know, hospitals, states, public health officials, the red cross and so on, and they ran through an exercise. the idea was a group of tourists goes to china, and one of them comes back to chicago and he is coughing. and then his son goes out to a crowded public event, and within seven months you have, you know, like half a million americans are dead. how did that happen? on the table top exercise, there were agencies in the federal government that didn't know who was in control. states didn't know where to turn. there wasn't enough ppp in the national storehouse. all of the things that the trump
administration would face, they had predicted themselves in this table top exercise. they had the benefit of knowing, going into the pandemic, that there were inherent problems inside their own government, and yet nothing of significance was done to change the faults that that exercise uncovered. >> lawrence, you have done such a good job outlining failures at every level of government. errin haines, step in here. you get the next question. >> thanks, jonathan. thank you, lawrence, for such an insightful piece of journalism. really just congratulations on a tremendous read. i want to ask you, you know, we started this pandemic with the premise that we are all in this together. you know, even as the pandemic laid bare the systemic inequalities in the country that existed before the coronavirus and will continue to exist on the other side of it. as we close out 2020 and look hopefully towards life post-vaccine and maybe the
beginning of a return to normal life and reopening, i just wonder if it is your feeling that we have been all in this together as americans and, if not, if there is still a hope in your mind that there is a chance that we could come together going forward. >> well, errin, i fear the answer is no. this has not been a unifying experience. it's been a highly politicized one. there has a poll of different countries. do you feel that your country is more unified after the pandemic? and every country except for the u.s. and the u.k. said they were. you know, we are outliers in the world, and it's because of the politicization of this process that has caused this, what should have been a disease that brought us all together in the
struggle, it has caused us to become even more divided than we were before. >> all right. lawrence wright, thank you very much. this incredible new piece of reporting is the entire latest issue of "the new yorker." and we'll be right back with much more "morning joe." it's a thirteen-hour flight, that's not a weekend trip. fifteen minutes until we board. oh yeah, we gotta take off. you downloaded the td ameritrade mobile app so you can quickly check the markets? yeah, actually i'm taking one last look at my dashboard before we board. excellent. and you have thinkorswim mobile- -so i can finish analyzing the risk on this position.
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local newsrooms continued to be an invaluable resource covering racial injustice to the impacts of coronavirus in smaller communities. our next guests working to bolster that reporting through a project that helps place journalists in local newsroom to report on undercovered issues in communities. the report for america initiative part of the non-profit organization the ground troop project. it's founder, ceo, editor charlie sennott joins us, and morgan covers city government
for the bay state banner. charlie you were doing such important work. i am a newspaper alum, believe very much in the importance of these local newsrooms. just walk us through the project. what is it and why does it matter? >> well, report for america is a service project. we are trying to serve local communities by bolstering local reporting in these communities. we put out a call to newsrooms and we say, if you have a part of your community that needs to be covered that's not getting covered, let us know. we then select those newsrooms carefully and then we put out the call to emerging journalists. this is a call to service to say, any of you who want to be reporters, who understand the great public service of local reporting we want you to join. we select those reporters and match them with the newsrooms. this year, 2021, in the new year we will have 300 reporters in more than 200 newsrooms across the country. so that's in rural ohio, that's in the mississippi delta, appalachia. it's right here where i am in
boston with morgan mullings, who is at the bay state banner, great black-owned newspaper. she is doing important work at city hall and the statehouse and informing the community here in boston. that's what we want to do across the country and that's what we are doing. it's really feeling like a movement, but the crisis is deep, and even though we are having success, we feel like we are far from really getting our arms around this crisis and being anywhere near resolving it. 60% of the reporters in america have lost their work in the last 20 years. that's a crisis on par with the collapse of the coal industry or steel. we really have to do a better job telling the story, jonathan. i know you and michael, you know, come from the traditional local reporting. it just couldn't be more important for us to recognize that if we are going to get out of this crisis in our democracy and this incredibly divided time in our country, one of the ways we can do that is by recognizing the importance of local news,
supporting local news, and hopefully calling this new generation of journalists to come forward and be a part of report for america. >> so i want to ask morgan a question in just a second about the reporting that she has been able to do. but, charlie, i want to dig into what you were just saying for a second because i just think it's important for all of our viewers to understand the kinds of stories that are told at the local level, the way in which local reporters, local papers hold politicians accountable. what kinds of stories are these communities able to consume because of this project that you have undertaken. >> these are the stories that matter most to communities. these are the local issues like what's happening with the board of education, what's happening in their town hall, where is the money going. these are the stories of communities that bind them together, that really make them address the local issues they face together through a shared
set of facts. it's the basics of journalism. i heard this morning the discussion was really revolving around that media has focused too much on donald trump, given maybe too much air time to how divisive he has been. the media has nis not just madef the big networks and cable television. it's really about local reporters across this country, men and women covering the stories that really, really matter to their communities. i think knowing that that is so diminished and really dying is something we need to be concerned about. and i really believe there is a direct connection between not covering those local issues, not having a shared set of facts and civic engagement and the crisis of our democracy. we know 1,800 communities have lost their local news organizations, and those that lose it are more polarized, more divided, and interestingly have lower bond ratings. banks don't want to invest in communities that don't have
anyone watching the story. >> no, it's absolutely such an important point. and, morgan, what inspired you to get into journalism, and when you talk to people your age who are just starting out in the industry, some of the figures charlie laid out are pretty bleak. i know certainly a lot of my colleagues over the years have talked about conversations with their parents who said, well, maybe you should be a lawyer instead of a journalist or perhaps do something else. of course, for people often of color who come from, you know, perhaps low-income families or who don't have the opportunity to take an unpaid internship, it can be even harder to get into the field. so why are you doing it and how has this program helped you and how do you think you can help others? >> well, my parents definitely did think that it would be best for me at first to do something, go to law school, go to medical school, but they definitely saw that as a child i was so passionate about journalism,
passionate about the stories that i could tell from the time i was in elementary school until now. i just graduated in may. i graduated during the pandemic. and if anything, that has encouraged me more to enter this field. local news is something that's so important to me because right now, especially right now, we are only as good as the information that we have. the decisions that we make are so critical right now, and when we don't have the right information, especially about vaccines, about what's going on in housing right now, about our health care, it's easy to say, i can watch things on a national level and then i'll know, but not everybody is going to get the vaccine at the same time. not everyone's getting the same relief from their local government, their municipal government and state legislators. and so i'm kind of there to bridge the gap in between communities, especially black communities in boston, which are so important to me right now, to
bridge the gap between them and their legislators. they don't get to talk directly all of the time. a lot of these things happen behind closed doors and a lot of drastic decisions that change people's lives that the street in affordable housing, are happening in silence. so it is important for me to be there and make sure that they cannot be in the dark. i'm there to shine the light. that's really what it is. >> that is extraordinarily well-said. erin, obviously this idea, this concept of telling under reported stories, telling the stories from viewpoints of communities that are not as represented as they should be, of course, fuels the 19th where you are. talk about this and this subject that is near and dear to your heart. >> it absolutely is, jonathan. listen, at the 19th we are absolutely focused on centering
marginalized community and reporting what reflects the realities of people in this democracy who have not previously felt seen and heard. i can't say enough how encouraged i am hearing from morgan as somebody who got their start in the black press as a young journalist. the future is looking very bright from where i sit here, so just congratulations to you on your success already, on graduating even in the midst of this terribly uncertain and chaotic time, to be able to start your career in this way. i know it is not ideal, but it absolutely is necessary and urgent, so congratulations on the work that you are doing. i do want to ask you, you kind of touched on this a little bit, about the lens through which you report and the stories that you see that maybe your colleagues who don't have a certain lived experience are able to see. what do you feel like you bring to journalism? really, why do you think diversity in journalism matters,
especially now in reflecting who and where we are as a country? >> well, i think that it has a lot to do with two things. it has to do with watching my editor who has been at "the banner" for such a long time and also getting the training through "report for america." the good thing with "report for america" is they bring people who are not from those communities and drop them in for a new perspective which is so important. but having a reporter at a black newspaper is also important. they also cater to the latino community a lot as well. when i get on the phone with people, you know, sometimes there is a distrust. sometimes they're not ready to open up to me to share their thoughts and, you know, maybe they might have an attitude about newspapers in general or about my newspaper specifically, and me being a fresh face and especially a young face, i'm able to make them a little bit more comfortable and let them know, you know, i'm new here, i
know there are things that may have happened in the past that make you not trust the media but i can listen to you and i can make sure your voice is included because it is necessary. it is a tough conversation, media literacy is a tough conversation. getting people to open up is tough, but i'm excited to continue breaking walls down in that way. >> mike barnacle, i'm told you know a thing or two about newspapers. why don't you jump in next. >> charlie, we'll dispense with the disrespect in jonathan's tone of voice there to me. but let me ask you, you know and jonathan certainly knows, nobody goes to work for a newspaper in order to get rich. you mentioned earlever yier, yo 300 young people out in the field in states doing god's work, working at local newspapers. how do they find you? what do you pay them and how do
you get the money to pay them? >> they find us through reportforamerica.org. mike, it is talented to see how many talented young people like morgan want to be a part of this. it is exciting to sense a momentum out there that people want to serve. the co-founder of report for america with me had a vision that this would be a service project and that's what we're trying to people. the answer is people want to serve. they come to this site, they learn about it. i hope viewers will encourage people to do this. understand when you do this, you are of service. it is like teach for america but for journalism. we want to try to build an army out there. what we do is we have the selection process i ex explained and foundations support us. we are really proud to have the support of the knight foundation and other leading foundations, and we also have individual supporters who support the work, who get behind the idea that these local communities need this support. so we pay 50% of the salaries,
which are based on the same standard level that the newspapers themselves set. they include benefits, health benefits. we want -- it is not easy to be a reporter. you are definitely not going to get rich, you are right, but you should have benefits and the same salary as everyone else at your level. we make sure that happens. we pay half, and then we work with the local news organizations to raise the other half in their local communities. so we're in touch with local foundations and communities that we're trying to bring in to recognize the importance of strong, local journalism if they're going to have a really thriving local community. they're going to need those. we are trying to wake everyone up to what has happened now that we've lost this enormous number of reporters and we've seen 1,800 news organizations close. it is a crisis that needs attention, and i guess we are encouraged we are able to do something about it, but we recognize we have a really long way to go.
>> a really long way to go indeed. of course, for those of us working at the national level, this kind of a pipeline is so amazing to bring in people who have these different experiences. for any journalist interesting in applying visit reportforamerica.org. thank you so much for being here. that is going to do it for "morning joe" this morning. yasmin vossoughian picks up our coverage after this quick break. i got uh sausage - you can do better, steve! get a freshly made footlong, from subway®! you can even order on the subway® app! did i just get picked off by deion sanders?
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hi there, everybody. good morning. i'm yasmin vossoughian. today, help is on the way. after days of stalling the president signed a bill averting a shut down, providing covid relief, and providing much-needed aid to millions of americans. it came after 12 million americans lost a week of unemployment benefits and millions struggled through the holidays and continue to struggle without enough food to eat. this morning many americans may be able to breathe a sigh of relief for now, but it comes after more than seven months, seven months the continuing of pain as congress was in a deadlock over this aid bill. they couldn't get it together any